- Lifestyle & Sports
- 14 Apr 22
The Refugee Council has condemned the “cruel and nasty” Rwanda proposal to deter Channel crossings which will cost £1.4 billion a year.
Human rights organisations, activists and many members of the the wider British public have condemned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Priti Patel's plans to send asylum seekers and migrants who cross the Channel to Rwanda.
In what many see as a bizarre arrangement with the government of Rwanda, the Tories aim to send those who cross the Channel thousands of kilometres away, as the Johnson-led government tries to outsource responsibility for managing refugees to an African country that has a problematic history in relation to human rights. Over the past 12 months, record numbers of people have been making the hugely perilous journey across the channel in small boats.
"From today ... anyone entering the UK illegally as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1 may now be relocated to Rwanda," Boris Johnson said in a speech near Dover. "Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead."
Despite its sketchy human rights record, Johnson called the East African nation "one of the safest countries in the world, globally recognised for its record of welcoming and integrating migrants.
"This will send a clear message to those piloting the boats," he added. "If you risk other people's lives in the Channel, you risk spending your own life in prison."
At UN last year, UK demanded investigations into alleged killings, disappearances & torture in Rwanda.
And why would refugees stay there, having risked everything to get to UK?
This plan will simply create a new smuggling route out of Rwanda. pic.twitter.com/EaTmGneItL
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) April 14, 2022
More than 28,000 people arrived in Britain having crossed the Channel from France in small boats in 2021.
Many details of the scheme – for example, whether it would apply just to those who arrived by what the British government calls illegal means – remained unclear. As a result, the move has widely been interpreted as an attempt to distract from the fact that Johnson ahas been fined for law-breaking by the Metropolitan Police – the first Prime Minister in the history of the UK to suffer such an ignominy.
According to the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, it would be cheaper to put refugees up in the Ritz Hotel than to send them offshore. It's estimated that the cost of deporting a single asylum seeker can reach upwards of £100,000. Australia runs a similar system and it is estimated to cost $815million per annum – or $3.39million for each of the 239 people held offshore.
Israel signed a similar agreement with Rwanda and Uganda in 2013, leading to disastrous circumstances. The State of Israel announced a plan in January 2018 to forcibly deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers residing in the country to ‘third countries’. In April 2018, following massive international and local criticism and social protests, this deportation plan was canceled.
Between 2014 and 2017, Israel is estimated to have deported around 4,000 asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda.
Nearly every single one of them left. Many were smuggled back towards Europe, facing capture by militias, Islamic State, and a perilous crossing of the Med.
— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) April 14, 2022
Boris Johnson was elected partly on promises to 'curb' illegal immigration. Priti Patel has implemented some of the world's cruellest policies against migrants and asylum seekers, with the UK issuing noticeably fewer visas to Ukrainians fleeing the Russia war than any of the European countries.
The Prime Minister, who was fined for breaking lockdown regulations this week, also announced that Britain's border agency would hand responsibility for patrolling the Channel for migrant boats to the navy.
"The Royal Navy will take over operational command from Border Force in the Channel with the aim that no boat makes it to the UK undetected," Mr Johnson said, announcing extra funds for boats, aircraft and surveillance equipment to help detain people-smugglers at sea.
These draconian moves have been met with a wave of anger, with politicians, human rights activists and public figures all contributing to a chorus of criticism.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, urged the government to "immediately rethink its plans."
"We are appalled by the government's cruel and nasty decision to send those seeking sanctuary in our country to Rwanda," he said.
"Every day we are hearing the stories of desperate Ukrainian families fleeing war. This is the brutal reality faced by refugees escaping conflicts all over the world, who this Government now wants to treat as no more than human cargo to be shipped elsewhere.
"Offshoring the UK's asylum system will do absolutely nothing to address the reasons why people take perilous journeys to find safety in the UK.
"It will do little to deter them from coming to this country, but only lead to more human suffering and chaos - at a huge expense of an estimated £1.4 billion a year."
Read all about the outcome of Israeli offshoring efforts to Rwanda here.
This is just more desperate cruelty from Patel that will only be celebrated by international gangs of smugglers & traffickers.
It will not make refugees disappear. #r4today https://t.co/ckLKN5PCZE
— Zoe Gardner (@ZoeJardiniere) April 14, 2022
OMG! Priti Parel wants to RESETTLE UK asylum seekers in Rwanda!
You mean refugees will survive the arduous journey from war torn countries including surviving the English Channel to reach England, only to be taken to Rwanda?!
CRUEL beyond words - Wrong and Evil. pic.twitter.com/NFLi9IyGu4
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) April 14, 2022
These poor people whose circumstances are already beyond desperate, who have risked and lost pretty much everything to get this far are to be sent thousands of miles away to Rwanda. Nice touch. https://t.co/XwAYvlbpVC
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) April 14, 2022
Asylum seekers have been demonised for decades. At school, during the Blair admin, calling someone an “asylum seeker” was a playground slur.
The Rwanda policy hasn’t come out of nowhere, it’s the result of media and politicians presenting asylum seekers as subhuman for years.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) April 14, 2022
We’re sending people who try to seek a safe life here in the UK to Rwanda? Is that what we’re doing? Lower than low we are at the top!
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 14, 2022
Shipping asylum seekers 5000 miles to Rwanda for “processing” is both cruel and bizarre. And at a cost of up to £100,000 per asylum seeker, it is a ridiculously expensive way to pander to racists. pic.twitter.com/3Vk5f1maye
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) April 14, 2022
The government’s plan to send refugees fleeing conflict, including those where there has been British involvement, to Rwanda is shameful and beyond cruel.
We must build a world of peace and compassion. The plans to ‘offshore’ those seeking safety and security must be resisted. pic.twitter.com/b5ziXnzESA
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 14, 2022
Many don't know that involuntary manslaughter charges were filed against the UK HM Coastguard for the 27 people who drowned in the English Channel on the 24th of November 2021.
To avoid similar issues they will now detain all who survive the gauntlet 6,000 miles away in Rwanda.
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) April 14, 2022
Human Rights Watch on the treatment of refugees in Rwanda. pic.twitter.com/OlmUCpVjyD
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) April 13, 2022
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